As the end of the season fast aproaches, your tent may have picked up a few knocks and bruises during these glorious damp summer months that we have all enjoyed. Taking a little time though to sort these problems out now will be time well spent before packing away for next season.
Take care of your tent
With the first week of August behind us we may only have a few weeks of warm weather ahead of us sadly and so this is really the ideal time to pitch our tents and get to work with some cleaning and re proofing products.
The best way to clean a tent properly is to firstly choose a bright sunny day, pitch the tent and then take some time and have a good look over it, both inside and out, for any signs of mould that may have crept into the fabric from a damp guy line or a tent that was not completely dry when last packed away.
Mould is a living organism and it needs to be killed or it will spread rapidly. However, in its early stages it can be easily missed as the black dots that start the process can be minimal so look carefully.
If you are unlucky and the dreaded black dots have found a new home in your tents fabric you need to get yourself a bucket, a clean sponge, and a bottle of Milton Sterilising Fluid.
1. Prepare and sponge
Mix 1 part of Milton fluid with 10 parts warm water and gently sponge the solution into the area affected and then leave it for around half an hour before thoroughly rinsing the area with clean cold water.
Sunlight will also help to kill any mould spores as will a little Lemon Juice, but be very careful as this will bleach some fabrics.
2. Cleaning the grime
Once any mould has be delt with, and lets hope you were able to skip that stage, its time to look at cleaning the tent of general mud and grime that may have been picked up during the season. Again a bucket of warm water to start with and then add a general cleaner such as Fabsil Universal Cleaner or Nikwax Tech Wash but NEVER be tempted to use a detergent type washing powder as this will strip a tents water repelant qualities.
Bucket and soft sponge in hand and starting at the top of each panel, wash downwards to ensure the dirt is washed away and not into the fabric.
Always wash a complete panel, even if only a small area is dirty, otherwise you may end up with a rather patchy looking tent when dry. Once all the panels have been cleaned thouroughly wash down the tent with plain water. This is to ensure that all the cleaning solution is washed out of the fabric.
Now leave the tent to dry naturally in the sun and go and put the kettle on, you deserve a cuppa by now.
3. Re proofing your tent
Now that you have a clean tent its time to look at re proofing the flysheet. Waterproofing a tent not only helps to keep it watertight, it also helps prevent UV damage to the material over time.
Again Fabsil and Nikwax do a great range of re proofing products but it is always best to check that the solution you buy is suitable for your tents flysheet fabric as cotton, polycotton or polyester flysheets all differ slightly in the way they repel water and as such the re proofing solution should be purchased to match your tents fabric.
Also some solutions need to be applied when the tent is damp whilst others require the tent to be totally dry, so again read the instructions on the tin before you start and always make sure that the tent is totally dry before packing it away as some treatments can become very sticky if packed away before they have dryed fully.
4. Check for damage
Lastly, check all zips for damage and if need be run a wax candle up and down the teeth a few times to help smooth the zips movement. Tent pegs should be washed off in a bucket and dried before packing away and guy lines checked and replaced if necessary.
You can now pack your tent away in the knowledge that when the time comes, and the sun breaks through again next year, that you will be ready, with a clean, waterproof and fault free tent for the first of many trips throughout the season.